Retailers should learn from the best ecommerce operations to ensure their online offer is as appealing as their in-store offer.
I always read with interest the Retail Week Etail power list, which is full of names of people working at the top British retailers.
But before we get carried away and keep patting ourselves on the back, the truth is many British retail websites are, to put it bluntly, pretty poor – not all of them, I know.
That’s in contrast to most British retailers’ stores, which are fantastic.
Their marketing, point of sale and adverts are also generally very good. We’ve got a lot to be proud of.
So if the retailers are so good, why are their websites often poor? I think because most people still don’t get the internet and are scared to challenge the so-called experts in case they are made to look a fool.
People then end up falling into the ‘emperor’s new clothes’ syndrome.
There’s no rocket science behind any of this and there are no special rules for the internet. There’s nothing wrong with asking stupid, simple, obvious questions.
So what’s wrong with their websites? Some have got everything wrong, while others have got lots of little things wrong.
A poor choice of colour, poorly designed navigation, poor copywriting, or a poor choice of fonts.
People don’t understand that fonts make such a difference but they are a secret weapon. If you get it right, they have an enormous impact.
Did you know that most web designers are not good at design?
They might know how to use software and write code but they shouldn’t be allowed to design websites.
They don’t understand customers and they don’t understand psychology. The people giving them direction often don’t understand this either.
The Americans are much better. Amazon is a work of art, a masterpiece.
The layout, the fonts, the symmetry, the navigation, the copywriting, the attention to detail and the customer reviews. It just works.
If Amazon is so good, why don’t people look at it and other great sites and learn? Why do they walk around blind? Don’t retail chiefs say to their people: “Why does our site not look as good as good as this?”
Just because someone calls themselves an expert doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about.
I looked at my old employer’s site, Currys.co.uk. Did you know they also own Partmaster.co.uk, which sells over a million parts? But you can’t buy these parts from Currys.
I can walk into a Currys PC World store and buy a Dyson but I can’t buy one on the PC World website. Why not?
The Argos website search hasn’t got auto-complete – can you imagine if Google turned that feature off on its search engine? I could go on forever.
People often say, “well, nobody else has complained.” I’ve got news for you. Customers don’t say goodbye. They just go.
People also say, “Yes, but look how well we’re doing”. But if you got it right, how much better could you be doing?
Don’t be scared to ask stupid, simple, obvious questions.
- Ajaz Ahmed is the founder of Legal365.com and Freeserve